The organisers of the Volta a Catalunya have confirmed that Thursday's fourth stage has been reduced in length by 60km due to snow and cold weather at the planned start town of Llívia in the Pyrenees.
The start of the stage will now held 58 kilometres down the stage route, in the village of Montferrer at 2:00pm local time, to avoid the riders racing in the wet and snow.
The stage is still scheduled to finish in Igualada in the hills behind Barcelona. The new stage will be 136km long.
The decision to cut the stage was made after riders and teams awoke to snowfall at their hotels in La Molina. Team vehicles were covered with snow, with low temperatures outside. Temperatures were around three or four degrees in the original start town of Llivia, which is at nearly 1,200 metres above sea level in the Pyrenees, and forced the organisers to move the stage.
Under the UCI Extreme Weather Protocol, the riders, teams and organisers can call for a reduction or cancellation of the stage if the weather is considered dangerous. The riders faced a long downhill section in the snow and rain and were concerned about riding in such cold conditions. Riders, well-wrapped up against the cold did the usual signing on in Llivia before getting back in the buses and heading to the new start.
Ernesto Maggiori, UCI commissaire, told Cyclingnews: "We've had a meeting with the riders and organisers representatives, as well as the police and that's the decision we've reached, do the sign-on as usual and then begin again in the new town."
"That's the best spot because that's where there's space for all the buses and the rest of the race convoy.”
"There's definitely some snow coming down so it wouldn't have been nice to go 50 kilometres downhill in this," race leader van Garderen told Cyclingnews after signing on. "I was prepared to do it, but I'm happy we don't have to."
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of the stage, followed by a full race report, photo gallery and rider interviews.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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